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Christians to fight Kerala elections

New political party to give religious minority a stronger voice and stand up for rights

Christians to fight Kerala elections
Father Joseph Kappil blesses the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) flag in the Holy Land
George Kommattathil, Kozhikode

March 18, 2011

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The first political party launched by Catholic lay people in Kerala has decided to contest state assembly elections slated for April 13. “We are compelled to field our own candidates, because no political party provides justice for Christians,” Joy Abraham Parikkapallil, general secretary of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has said. Parikkapallil said the new party would show its strength in Malabar, Kerala’s northern region, which is home to one third of the state’s six million Christians. The Catholic lay leader said the party plans to contest a total of six constituencies where a Christian presence is strong. He said their party “aims to get Christians to stand together and demand their rights since it has now become the voice of Christians in Kerala.” Most Christian voters in the state traditionally support the United Democratic Front alliance led by the Congress Party, the main opposition in the state. The other, the Left Democratic Front, is headed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which often clashes with the Church. Catholics, disillusioned by the policies of the state’s two major alliances, formed the party in September 2010, he explained. CDU president Raju Thomas Thoompunkal said recently that Christians did not realize how much they needed an organization to take up their cause politically. Recent attacks on Christians and the “weak” response to them by Church leaders, as well as constant neglect by political parties “forced us to form a party to unite Christians in the country,” Thoompunkal said. Father Jose Manimalatharappel, an official from Thamarassery diocese, says the Church in Kerala supports the new party. “Most Christians think the new group will be a blessing to the totally confused Christians in the state,” the priest said. IB13667.1645
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